Happy Christmas from the West Yorkshire Archive Service!

Well, 2012 is nearly over! As many of you will know, it’s been a really busy year for Leeds Archives with final preparations for the move and then the actual moving of 15,000 boxes in the Autumn to our new home at Gildersome Spur. It’s a year that we will mark down in our history books, so we thought we would take this opportunity to share a few of our treasures relating to anniversaries from 1812 and 1912, before we welcome 2013!

The Bicentenary of the birth of Charles Dickens

Charles Dickens was born on the 7th February, 1812. A prolific writer, introduced to many through his serials published in magazines, he had and continues to have a great impact. Many people will currently be reading A Christmas Carol, which incidentally will be enjoying its’ 170th anniversary next year! Other people, including myself may be watching one of the many cinematic versions, such as The Muppet Christmas Carol, a mere youngster at only 20 years of age this year! 

For this blog, I have concentrated on his connection to Bowes. It was really interesting to find documents relating to a place in North Yorkshire in West Yorkshire. As many researchers will have encountered, historical boundary changes can make things complicated! Dickens stayed in Barnard Castle whilst researching his novel Nicholas Nickleby. As part of his research, he visited Bowes and the Yorkshire Boarding School there, known as William Shaw’s Academy, which became immortalised in the novel as Dotheboys Hall. Opinions differ regarding the fairness of the comparisons, but anyone wanting to know more about the area Dickens visited, will find something of interest in our archives! Highlights include the 1850 will of William Shaw and an advert for the Academy.


Extract from William Shaw’s will, 1850 [Ref: RD/AP1/198/63]

Bowes and Charles Dickens Documents held at the West Yorkshire Archive Service                          

The Centenary of the Antarctic Expedition

Captain Lawrence Edward Grace Oates was part of the Terra Nova expedition team led by Captain Scott. They reached the South Pole in 1911, but terrible conditions led to a tragic return journey. Captain Oates is especially remembered for his heroic act of self-sacrifice. The Oates family had a direct link with West Yorkshire as Lawrence’s grandfather built the house known as Meanwoodside in Leeds, and Lawrence is known to have spent time there as a child.

There is a touching entry in the Beckett Street School Log Book (our ref: LC/ED1/3) which reads “14/02/1913, Spoke to the whole school of the disaster to the Antarctic Polar Expedition by the loss of the leader Captain Scott & his four companions Dr Wilson, Lieut. Bowes, Capt. Oates & Petty Officer Evans, and read to them the account as specially written for children by Arthur Machen.”

Captain Oates Documents held at the West Yorkshire Archive Service

The Centenary of the Sinking of the HMS Titanic

April the 15th, one hundred years ago, the tragedy of the Titanic happened. 1502 lives were lost on the maiden voyage of this Olympic-class ocean liner.  We hold records that show the personal as well as the public reaction to the disaster.

This image is from the personal diary of Sir William Ingilby and simply states ‘Fearful shipwrecking The Titanic some 1200 lost’ [Ref: WYL230/3600]

This image is from the personal diary of Sir William Ingilby and simply states ‘Fearful shipwrecking The Titanic some 1200 lost’ [Ref: WYL230/3600]

Wallace Hartley was a violinist and the bandleader on the Titanic and had Yorkshire links. The “Wallace Hartley” Memorial Fund Committee was set up and gave a cheque for £108, which purchased the painting “Homeward Bound” by F Cayley Robinson for the Leeds Gallery. Details can be found in the Leeds Library Committee minutes, including subsequent loans of the painting.

Titanic Documents held at West Yorkshire Archive Service

We hope you have enjoyed looking back with us! We look forward to welcoming you if you would like to look at any of the items shown or referred to in the blog and attached source lists?! What gems might we have for anniversaries coming up in 2013?! Thinking caps on, I’m sure we will have something!

 It just remains to say, Happy New Year from all of the

West Yorkshire Archive Service!


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